Poems, Poetry Prompts

In the Doorway of Lost Hopes

Today’s prompt is to write a sketch poem. Most of my poetry is sketches anyway, imagistic moments, a few lines of spiderweb, a dash of color, touch of light.

Crouching in the doorway
of your lost hopes,
you raise your head.
Morning sun dazzles your eyes
in a wash of gold and green.
Someone’s rooster crows
in the distance,
and a thousand little birds
bring the garden alive.

And then your name,
there in the too-bright light:
an egg, a seed,
planted in the soil
of your confusion, your grief.

Wake up! Do not try
to touch the heart of it.
Not yet.
Breathe it in.
Let it grow within you.
Now go and speak your truth
to those who will listen.

Gratitudes, Musings

Shifts

Gratitude List:
1. How time shifts grief to a different space. This is the week, thirteen years ago, when my first child would have been due. I lost the pregnancy early, at thirteen weeks, but I was new to the horror of loss in those days, and it hit me like a truck. Today, it sits differently in me. Still, it wants to be noticed, to be remembered.
2. The light is coming back. We still have a long way to walk until Sunreturn, but it will come again. This year is harder than some, the claustrophobia more intense and grinding, and it’s hit me earlier. I am grateful for whatever lessons it has to teach me.
3. Coffee and chocolate
4. Getting it done, slowly but surely
5. Innovation and change

May we walk in Beauty!

Poems, Poetry Prompts

Lament


Today’s Prompt is to write a lament. It’s hard not to get a little melodramatic in such a moment.

Weep, Sisters, weep.
Walk these broken streets
and wail, Sisters, wail.
Do not sleep.
Do not fail to keep
your careful vigil.
Give voice to your grief.

When the young ones are in danger
and the old ones mock and mutter,
when the guns are locked and loaded
and targets are our daughters
and our sons, but we’re too spineless
to confront this evil in our midst:

Weep, Sisters, weep.

When the Earth is torn and bleeding,
and the Ocean waves are reeking
with the filth which we’ve created,
and our greed cannot be sated
for the oil and blood and water,
for the spoils of war and slaughter:

Wail, Sisters, wail.

Gratitudes, Musings, Poems, Poetry Prompts

Dial Up the Magic


Today’s prompt is to write a ______ if ______ poem. His examples all filled the blanks with longish phrases, but this came to me:

If I sleep I will speak
Speak if I sing
Sing if I breathe
Breathe if I wait
Wait if I weep
Weep if I dream
Dream if I sleep.

 


(For some reason, the quotations from last year on this day all seem to be intended to comfort myself from some great sorrow)

” ‘They kept going, because they were holding onto something.’
‘What are we holding onto, Sam?’
‘There’s still good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.’ ”
—J. R. R. Tolkien
*
“Somewhere deep in the forest of grief
there is a waterfall where all your tears may flow
over mossy rocks, under watchful pines.”
—Beth Weaver-Kreider
*
“But this moment, you’re alive. So you can just dial up the magic of that at any time.” —Joanna Macy
*
“Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.” —E. B. White
*
“Love imperfectly. Be a love idiot. Let yourself forget any love ideal.” —Sark
*
“Everything I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything exists, only because I love.” —Leo Tolstoy
*
“Love is everything it’s cracked up to be. It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don’t risk everything, you risk even more.” —Erica Jong
*
“Fall in love over and over again every day. Love your family, your neighbors, your enemies, and yourself. And don’t stop with humans. Love animals, plants, stones, even galaxies.” —Frederic and Mary Ann Brussa
*
“For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.”
—Carl Sagan
*
“There are certain things, often very little things, like the little peanut, the little piece of clay, the little flower that cause you to look WITHIN – and then it is that you see the soul of things.”
—George Washington Carver


Gratitude List:
1. The way the large flocks of little birds line the electric lines when the pause to take a rest in their migrations, making the lines look furry
2. The way the color just keeps coming, keeps deepening, keeps astounding
3. The way the year has turned, from despair and rage to a kind of hope
4. The way the Open Secrets of Hollywood and Political Power are being blasted open so that powerful men can no longer hide their predations
5. Kale with dried tomatoes for supper

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings

The Doorway of the Dark

young

Now we enter the doorway of the dark, step across the threshold of the year into the dreaming time, the time of release and letting go, the time of journeying to the underworld.

In spiritual and community traditions across the globe, this is the season of remembering, of bringing to mind the ones we have loved who are no longer with us. It is a time to hold to our griefs close to our hearts, and to release them to the winds, like leaves. Some say that these are the days when the veil between worlds is thin, when our connection to those we’ve loved and lost may we stronger, more real.

Yesterday in my church, this took the form of a ritual of memory and grief. We came together and we spoke of loss, and we remembered together. We lit candles and we heard story and we sang.

For the past couple weeks, the robins having been settling in at the dusk each evening here in the hollow. There’s a wild chattering in the treetops, and the wingfolk draw a complex web of lines across the hollow, sailing short distances from tree to tree, tree to tree. It’s like a playground full of excitable children.

What would our webs look like, were they all made visible? Connecting point to connecting point–what lines are drawn between ourselves and those who have gone before, between ourselves and others in the world today?

I draw a line between myself and my first immigrant ancestors, the Weavers leaving persecution in Germany and settling on farms in the Weaverland Valley, invited to grow crops and flourish in this good soil, the Schlabachs making a similar move to Ohio’s fertile plains. What did they know of the ones who had farmed the land before them?

I draw a line between myself and the Water Protectors on the Dakota plains, from the Susquehanna, river of my heart, to the Missouri, whose waters are endangered by the black oil snake that approaches nearer with every passing day. I draw the line to their ancestors, the First People on these lands. This line travels through broken treaties, through colonial suppression, through Wounded Knee, through Little Big Horn. Their work today looks oh-so-frighteningly similar.

What does it mean to come from a persecuted people? To identify as the descendant of those who were forced to leave their homeland in search of safety? That is the story I live by.

What does it mean that those very travelers, those refugee wanderers seeking safety and freedom to baptize as they believed–what does it mean that they settled land where others had lived and hunted and wandered?  Did they have words or concepts to explain Manifest Destiny, Doctrine of Discovery?

Today as I stand on this threshold of the season’s darkness, I will remember back before my memory. I will hold the connection between myself and those hopeful refugees from the pain and trial of the old world to the new. I will not excuse or explain away their settlement of fertile valleys, their claim of land which had once been free.  I will neither take one the shame nor dismiss it. I am their distant daughter, as the ones who stand for Water in the Dakotas are the distant children of those who moved across these lands, belonging to the land rather than claiming it for themselves.  Today we draw new lines. We make new patterns, new webs firmly anchored to the old ones. We wing our way into the dusk, like those robins, connecting point to point, idea to idea, memory to memory, grief to grief, until we have a web that will hold us as we move into the season that approaches.

Gratitude List:
1. Tears of joy and relief
2. Tears of sorrow and release
3. How the trees are letting go
4. Circles and webs of caring
5. Community rituals

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Poems

What Will You Write?

IMAG1695

What will you write on this page,
a blank ocean of white before you,
waiting for your mark?

The words and the images you lay upon this day
you will write with your grandmother’s pen,
with drops of blood from your fingertip,
with the blue quill of a wingfeather
dropped on the wind
from a passing jay.

Will you write joy? Will you write patience?
What will you write when grief
appears upon the page?
How will you work
around the stains of tears and sweat,
of oil and the smudges of your daily labor?

Let your words be beautiful and terrible,
your images shining and crisp,
your actions ancient,
yet newer than the fragments
of blue eggshell in your cupped hand.

Gratitude List:
1. This blank page of a school year beginning
2. My earnest and compassionate colleagues
3. The Shining Ones who will walk in my doorway today
4. The Work: Love and Learning. Love of Learning.
5. Bridges. Every moment is a bridge.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes, Musings

More from the Monastery

Featured image

Gratitude List:
1. Those clouds after the storm.  Everything glowed golden.
2. Veggie quiche.  I can’t believe how those boys ate!
3. Playing Pokemon with Ellis.  Yes, I bought myownself a deck. He wins more than I do.
4. Getting more sleep.  My body lets me sleep until 6:30 now.
5. This circle.  You and you and you and me and you and you.

May we walk in Beauty!

Here are some more things that I wrote at the Monastery:
6-15-15, Wernersville Jesuit Center

When I left the beech tree, I thought I would go sit on a bench beside a cobbled patio to put on my sandals, then find the labyrinth on my map.  The patio turned out to be the labyrinth.

Thinking about the animals that have come to my visions this year.  Lynx came to me at the year’s turning.  Macaw dropped me a feather.  Lioness and jaguar have both been reaching me in dreams and waking dreams–their messages are about leadership and impeccability.  This morning as I left the boys, a swallow flew low overhead.  And here in this place, catbird seems to be following me around.

6-16-15
In the main stairway, every time I go up and down the steps, I feel a need to greet the statue of Jesus with the open heart every time I pass him on the first floor landing.  “Hi, Jesus!”

This morning as I walked away from some contemplative time in the Cathedral of the Weeping Beech, I thought I saw a bird dying, thrashing in the grass a small distance from the gazebo.  A soft light caught the twitching, and as I walked closer, the energy did not seem to be about distress.  Suddenly it resolved in my vision into a fawn–the twitching wings were ears.  It was a small one settling in to wait for the mother, shaking the little bugs out of its eyes.

Walking this afternoon: “What makes you sad?” ask the trees.  I ask this question of myself, but somehow, it takes on new shades of meaning in their language.  I tell them all of it, how it hurts me when natural disasters happen, but that the things that make me saddest are the things the people do to hurt each other and the Earth.  Not just the intentional hurts, but the hurts born of people’s greed and lack of desire to know and to notice.

“What makes you angry?” the trees asked me then.  And many of the things were the same.  Perhaps I need to learn to differentiate better between my emotions.

Something in these questions from the trees unlocks doors within myself that I couldn’t seem to open before.

I was carrying the weight of these things with me when I reached the Mary statue, and something profound happened to me there.  I suddenly felt as though I knew about how her heart is broken again and again and again.  How she holds it all.  There she is, holding the Babe of wonder, her face filled with love for this Child of Promise.  There she is, holding the body of the young man, her son, her face filled with love and grief.  The serenity of her face holds within it the extremes of wonder and grief, love and anguish, that she knew.  She pondered these things in her heart: was she pondering how the act of opening herself to great love also opened herself to great grief?  But choosing to do it anyway, joyfully, because love is always worth it, and our hearts were made large enough and strong enough to hold it ALL.  I wept and wept and wept, holding on to her feet and looking out with her over the valley.

****

I need to keep making the story my own.

Gratitudes

Big Heart, Big Grief

Alas, but the wee mousekin has died.  A small boy is learning that terrible and beautiful lesson that we all must learn throughout our lives, again and again and again: that when you open your heart to great love, you open your heart to great grief.  But oh, his heart broke so.  And so did ours, as we tried to be present, to help him be present, to witness that small death.  And of course, he is fine, and chattering on about the hamster that a wee mouse made space for in our idea for our life.

Amid all the sadness of that loss, and the excitement of making a new small friend, I hope he will never forget that day of tender care for one of the tiniest creatures.  I hope he will always remember how, when he would put his long slender fingers into the bin where it lived, the big eyes would turn eagerly toward him, and wee Shiver would scurry eagerly onto his hand and burrow her tiny face into his palm.

 

Gratitude List:
1.  For the big-hearted boy, for the chance–no matter how painful–to learn of grief early and gently, to name the feeling and mark it in his heart.  For his readiness to open his heart again.
2.  For the man who sat with the boy and wept with him silently, not asking him to process or discuss–only to witness and experience his emotions.
3.  For being recognized in the lists of poets from the Poem-A-Day challenge last April.  It’s not like winning a contest, really, but just having some of my poems noticed amidst the many that were posted feels kind of good inside.  I feel like I’ve joined a community of poets.
4.  Change.  Just enough.  Not too much.  Not too little.  In that place between too quiet a routine and too unbalanced a life.
5.  Camp.  I know I put this one up here just a few days ago, but that was gratitude for how well camp went for my boys.  Today I put it on the list for how it gives me a little breathing space in the clamor of summer demands.  Quiet.

May we walk in Beauty!

Gratitudes

Elemental

Fire Cider

Gratitude List:
1.  Birds.  Kestrel on a Wire.  Snow geese in a corn-stubble field.  Bluebirds muttering in the chestnut tree: “There now.  Everything is going to be okay.”
2.  Music.  So much good music yesterday and today.  Indigo Girls’ CD: Nomads, Indians, and Saints–for some reason I came back to it all fresh again yesterday.  Then the Blossom Hill String Band.  This morning’s singing and tears.
3.  Holding it all in the Bowl of the Heart.  It all has to go in there together, and somehow the mix of it all, all the beautiful and difficult and tender and angry and wretched stories, all in there together–somehow it feels right.  That is how it is meant to be.
4.  Spring, She rises.  The footsteps of Persephone are visible now everywhere I turn.
5.  Fire Cider, Elderberry Tincture, and Kombucha.  Good Medicine.

May we walk in Beauty.

Gratitudes, Musings

All Souls Day

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Aunt Lizzie (Elizabeth Weaver) and
Grandma (Marian Weaver) quilting
.
Is that Aunt Gladys or Aunt Sharon in the front?

Today is the third day of All Hallows, the day of All Souls, remembering particularly the ancestors, and those we love who have died.   My experience of grief has so often been grieving with people I love who have lost someone.  So today I am thinking of Eli and of Peter, of Julie and Raymond, of Joyce and Elaine and Gerald, of Cory, of Lee, of Harold.  And I am thinking of my grandparents, of Aunt Lois and Uncle Victor and Uncle Irvin, of Uncle John and Aunt Anna Lou, of Uncle Paul.

Today, for All Souls,
A Gratitude List for Ancestors and Loved Ones:
1.  for Ellis Kreider, Jon’s father, gentle and twinkly, earnest and thoughtful
2.  for Grandma, Marian Weaver–I still miss her
3.  for Aunt Lizzie, who could tell you stories all day without a pause
4.  for my blood ancestors and those of my children, for that marvelous branching and intertwining, like feathering tree roots going back and back
5.  for the ancestors of this place, the people who walked these woods and hills, hunting and foraging, traveling, centuries ago

May your memories hold you.

(Oh, and Happy Birthday, Mockingbird!  I missed it.  Yesterday was the birthday of this blog.  I began it last year as a place to put the poems that I write in response to Robert Brewer’s Poem-a-Day Challenge.  I got caught up in the whole experience of the days of All Hallows this year, and missed yesterday’s poem.  Tomorrow I will begin that process again.  I may have to double up my poems for a couple days to catch up.)